Otey Clark pitched right in the middle of the ’40s in the heat of World War II. His major-league career may have lasted only one season, but it was a productive season. 

William Otis Clark was born in Boscobel, Wisconsin in May 22, 1915. He graduated from Boscobel High School, where he played first base and then, after taking over for a pitcher who had developed a sore arm, reportedly pitched on the high-school team with great success.

Then he started pitching for a semipro club at Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin. He pitched there during the summer while still in high school and  won 43 and lost 3 over three years. They played the House of David, Pine Grove Colored Giants out of Mississippi, and teams out of La Crosse. 

Otey (Otis) had pitched for both Brown’s All Stars of Woodman, Wisconsin, and the Soldiers Grove Cardinals. He also drove a delivery truck for the three years, selling candy and pop in little towns around there.

While in La Crosse playing the Heileman Brewing Company with this team, a Minneapolis Millers scout asked him if he could talk to him that fall, when the ball season was over. He did and signed a contract. He pitched his first year for La Crosse in the Wisconsin State League. 

Otey was 11-7 with a 4.50 ERA for the La Crosse Blackhawks in 1940. In 1941, pitching for the Class C Eau Claire Bears, he was 14-6 with a 3.76 ERA, and achieved a personal best by striking out 15 batters from Fargo-Moorhead. On a Moline Plow Boys contract from February on, he pitched in six games for the Class B team.

He went to spring training with the Millers in 1942, in New Braunfels, Texas. The team played in Dallas and Fort Worth, and he was placed with the Fort Worth Cats of the Class A1 Texas League for 1942. He was 4-7 but with a 2.82 earned-run average and pitched his way onto the Millers for 1943. 

Clark was 4-F, exempt from military service.  He went to Fort Snelling in Minneapolis and the doctor there told him he had a toxic goiter and could not go overseas, because the shots he needed to take, would be fatal if administered. The condition was not something that bothered him in later life. 

Pitching in Double-A for Minneapolis saw him post an ERA for 1943 of 4.44.  The Boston Red Sox bought his contract during the season and assigned him to their own Double-A club, in Louisville. The Sox formally purchased his contract from Louisville on the last day of August, 1944. He pitched in the Junior World Series that year and showed some grit. Facing Baltimore, the International League champs, he was struck smack in the kneecap by a line drive. A doctor snapped his dislocated kneecap back into place and he pitched until he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the 13th inning.

In 1945 Otey was with the Red Sox throughout spring training (based in Pleasantville, New Jersey) and came to Boston with the ballclub. He played in the City Series against the Braves and then worked in the opening day game, coming in, in relief. Afterwards he was sent back to the Colonels, not returning until August.

The day before he was sent out, however, Clark played a role in the famous sham tryout of Jackie Robinson at Fenway Park. Joe Cronin asked him to pitch batting practice and Robinson hit the ball all over Fenway.

Otey had a very good year at Louisville, was recalled by the Red Sox in August and started nine games. His best game was a 3-0 seven-hit shutout of Philadelphia on September 19th.  His last two games were in relief, both against the Yankees. His ERA for his even dozen appearances in the majors came to just 3.06.  

He worked out with the Red Sox during spring training in 1946 and was on the bench for the first week and a half of the season. He didn’t appear in a game and was optioned to Louisville in April, because there wasn’t really room for him on a team that eventually went to the World Series. 

The Red Sox had a strong farm system and Otey’s Louisville club won the American Association pennant and blazed through the playoffs. They played the Montreal Royals for the Junior World Series, and won then, too. Montreal was the team for which Jackie Robinson played second base in 1946.

Otey spent spring training with Boston again in 1947, but, as in 1946, never appeared in a regular-season game. When the team headed north, he was left behind in Sarasota and was assigned once more to Louisville. Part way through the 1947 season, the Red Sox traded him to the Cardinals.

He played three more seasons in organized baseball - 1948 and part of 1949 with Minneapolis, and then the other part of 1949 and six appearances in 1950 with the Toledo Mud Hens. In May, he was released outright and continued to live in Minneapolis. Then for a couple of years, he managed in semipro ball for Rochester in the Southern Minny League.

After baseball, he worked as a men’s clothing buyer and salesman for J.C. Penney and then for 25 years he sold Buicks in Minneapolis.

Otey Clark died in Boscobel, WI on October 20, 2010. He was 95.